An Iowa Idyll
Give your home a historic flavor whatever its age with the help of an antiques dealer who decorated her own country Craftsman with favorite finds and timeless treasures.
Give your decor a historic flavor with the help of an antiques dealer who adorned her Iowa Craftsman with timeless treasures.
Maybe it was the street name—the idyllic-sounding Sunset Place—or the fact that the house felt well-aged despite being built in 2003. Maybe it was the rustic beams, the cedar ceilings, the wood floor or the living room’s two-story stone fireplace. Whatever the reason, Tammy Schroeder-Sutton and her husband, Roger Sutton, fell hard in 2013 for their four-bedroom Craftsman-style home, with its large front porch and more than 4,000 square feet of living space. The house is set on an acre of land in a northeast Iowa river town about halfway between Des Moines and Minneapolis, and the property even features a pond and wandering turkey and deer. “We came from a house built in the 1900s, so we weren’t willing to give up that feel,” Tammy explains. “This house has new-house conveniences with an old-house soul. It’s also surrounded by fields and nature.”
Inside, the secluded and spacious house reflects the nearby woods and water with natural touches and textures throughout. The main level includes a kitchen and old-fashioned pantry; living and dining rooms that share a stone fireplace; a master suite; and a laundry area. Three guest bedrooms, a full bathroom and two sitting areas are upstairs; the lower level houses the family room, also with stone fireplace, another bathroom, an exercise area and a workshop. The kitchen has seen the most updates, Tammy says, including new paint, lighting, countertops, appliances and accessories. Roger loves to cook and enjoys experimenting with new recipes, and the island is usually surrounded by friends and family, including the couple’s two grown children and four grandchildren. A new deck off the kitchen allows for outdoor entertaining as well as a private spot in which to relax and take in the surrounding woods and accompanying wildlife.
An antiques dealer, Tammy loves decorating with the treasures she gathers for herself as well as clients of her shop, Backroads-n-Bittersweet. For years, people had told her she should open a shop, and she did in 2015, naming the business in honor of the pastoral exploring she first did with her mom. “I would describe my style and personal look as early American country,” Tammy explains. “I love authentic original paint from the 18th and 19th century.”
Tammy collects redware, firkins, pantry boxes, baskets, wall boxes and checkerboards, and she gets a kick out of sharing her style with others. “Our home is very lived in, inviting, rustic, simple, relaxed, comfortable and homey,” she says. Her favorite rooms are the dining room, where she has a comfortable chair by the fireplace, the upstairs sitting room and, not surprisingly, the screened porch, the perfect vantage point for the sunsets that inspired the street name. An Iowa idyll, indeed.
On their way out for a sunset stroll, Roger and Tammy pause to admire a vintage planter Tammy picked up on one of her many antiquing forays.
Right: Play up the graphic sensibility of printed crocks with a small sampler that echoes their lettering as well as their blue and cream tones. Below: Craft a relaxing retreat through an unexpected furniture arrangement, as Tammy did in this sitting area, by placing two wing chairs facing each other—one at an angle—and adding a small rocker and an interesting table.